Apr 26, 2024 3 min read

Co-op Live’s opening week woes continue

Manchester’s new Co-op Live venue won’t open this weekend after all. A Black Keys show set to take place on Saturday has now been pushed back, as have two Peter Kay performances, which had already been rescheduled. Amid all the chaos, it was also announced that GM Gary Roden has resigned

Co-op Live’s opening week woes continue

Manchester's new Co-op Live arena has yet again pushed back its opening, and has cancelled this weekend's show by The Black Keys. Peter Kay’s shows - which were already postponed once - have also been postponed again.

Last night the venue's General Manager Gary Roden quit, which at least allows the arena’s owner Oak View Group to distance itself from his comments that some grassroots venues are “poorly run” - a statement that seemed all the more foolish following the various issues that have occurred with the building's grand opening.

Last weekend the capacity for a test event was cut back from 11,000 to 4000 people because of what the venue said were power issues. 

Shortly after that it was announced that Kay's two performances - due to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday - were also being postponed because of a need to “ensure we have a consistent total power supply to our fully electric sustainable venue”.

Announcing the latest delay and postponement, a Co-op Live statement issued earlier today reads, “we have been undertaking an extensive protocol of testing critical procedures to ensure all areas are ready for fans. To ensure that we can run all shows safely, regretfully we have now had to take the decision to reschedule the planned The Black Keys and Peter Kay shows”.

“Today’s announcement comes with reassurance that we will welcome fans to Co-op Live from Boogie Wit Da Hoodie on 1 May, and into Olivia Rodrigo on 3 and 4 May 2024”, the statement adds, setting a new deadline.

Former Co-op Live GM Gary Roden made comments about grassroots venues being “poorly run” - presumably a statement he now somewhat regrets - during an interview about the opening of the venue. 

He was responding to a question about the proposal that booming arena venues should be providing some financial support to a grassroots live sector that is currently in crisis. He added that the Music Venue Trust's proposal to apply a £1 levy on arena show tickets to support grassroots venues, promoters and artists was “too simplistic”, and said that the levy campaign as a whole had been “quite aggressive”.

After confirming Roden had “decided to resign”, Oak View Group’s VP International, Jessica Koravos, was keen to distance the company from the former GM’s remarks. “Neither Co-op Live nor Oak View Group share the sentiment expressed by former Co-op Live General Manager Gary Roden regarding the grassroots industry”. 

In her statement, OVG’s Koravos didn’t address the ticket levy proposal head on, instead honing in on other ways the venue is trying to support grassroots music and the local community.

“As OVG chairman and CEO Tim Leiweke has repeatedly stated”, she said, “Co-op Live remains committed to grassroots music in Manchester and beyond, including teaming up with mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham on the Artist Of The Month campaign, and as a founding partner of Beyond The Music. Co-op Live also donates over £1 million a year to the Co-op Foundation to support communities and empower young people to take social action through its new Young Gamechangers fund”.

She also added that Oak View Group and Co-op Live remain “happy” to meet with grassroots organisations once the venue is “fully operational”. Sounds like a good idea. Perhaps the Co-op Live team could get some pointers on how to successfully run a music venue. 

Following Roden’s departure, Rebecca Kane Burton, formerly General Manager at London's O2 Arena, will be Interim General Manager.

Commenting on Burton’s appointment, Music Venue Trust boss Mark Davyd said, “Gary's replacement comes to Co-op Live with a history of working at The O2, an arena and operating company with a markedly different approach to these discussions and their relationship with MVT. Let's hope that this new General Manager brings a new and positive attitude and understanding with them”.

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